things i watched at otakon #8

otakon cosplayOtakon has come and gone for another year and as always, it was a load of overstimulating fun.  The weather was cooperative, the escalators seemed in better repair than usual, all the rooms were cold, and I bought just the cutest fox bag ever in the dealer’s room.  The cosplay was exceptional, with lots of Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Attack on Titan, and whatnot.  There was more cosplay that I didn’t recognize this year than usual so I guess I need to step up my anime game and get caught up with what all the kids are into.  I will note that I was shocked, SHOCKED, to not see a single Tardis, weeping angel, Dalek, or anything having to do with Dr. Who throughout the entire convention.  That just boggles the mind….

Without further ado, here is the wrap up of events that I attended.  There  might be SPOILERS.   Deal with it.

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otakon cosplayYamada and the 7 Witches:  One day at school, bored delinquent Ryū Yamada trips on the stairs and crashes into the lovely Urara Shiraishi, who is the school’s top student.  When he wakes up in the school infirmary Ryū is shocked to discover himself inside Urara’s body.  After a couple of the sorts of scenes that one would expect in these circumstances (Ryū looking at Urara’s breasts, figuring out his penis is gone, etc), he rushes off to find her, under the assumption that she is now in his body and doing god knows what with it.  When they meet they agree to finish out the rest of the school day in the switched bodies and then go back to the same stairs and enact the same accident in the hopes they will switch back.  After some trial and error they figure out that Ryū is able to switch bodies when he kisses someone (heh).  They decide to use this ability to deal with the issues in their lives.  Ryū is very close to failing some of his classes and Urara takes his tests for him.  Urara, although smart, is not popular and is actively harassed by her school mates and Ryū deals with them.  So this is the basic set up.  The two are shortly found out by another classmate who convinces them to reactivate the school’s Supernatural Activities club with him and this trio are shortly joined by another classmate, a young woman obsessed with all things supernatural.  They start randomly experimenting with kissing each other and body swapping and by the end of the second episode it works out so that the two girls, who are actually the two boys, are kissing while the two boys, who are actually the two girls, watch and make comments on how weird the whole situation is.  In general it is a pretty funny show and I am guessing from the title that eventually there will be a total of seven witches for Yamada to kiss and body swap with, with all the attendant slapstick, gratuitous boob and panty shots, and furious blushing and screaming that implies.  I would have stayed and seen the other two episodes but the room was too cold for my light summer clothing.

Score: meh.

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otakon cosplayKumiko, the Treasure Hunter:  Although billed as something of a quirky comedy in the Otakon guide, this movie was pretty much nothing but sad from start to finish.  Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi, who you might remember from Pacific Rim) is an unmarried Tokyo office lady with a despicable boss, a filthy apartment, and a mother who does nothing but pester her to get married or move back home.  She barely manages to dress herself, runs away in panic from any situation that stresses her, and finds what little solace she can in her pet rabbit Bunzo and obsessive treasure hunting, for which she hand stitches simple maps.  One on of her excursions she finds a battered videotape of the film Fargo and she becomes convinced that it is a documentary and that the treasure Steve Buscemi hides in the snow is real.  When her boss makes it clear that her time at her job is limited, she stitches up a map, steals the company credit card, and heads to Minnesota in the middle of winter to find the treasure.  Although there are some  humorous moments in the film (Kumiko feeding cup noodles to Bunzo, her culture clashes with random people in Minnesota) the general tone of the movie is one of stultifying depression.  Kumiko moves through her life as if she wades through molasses and the movie moves just as slowly.  Her face rarely changes expression, regardless of what is happening to her.  The only time she shows any emotion is when she has to leave Bunzo behind to go to America.  Tokyo and Minnesota are equally bleak, both cold, and both full of people who can’t or won’t understand Kumiko and what is happening to her.  It is hard to like Kumiko (she’s too passive, stubborn, and noncommunicative) but I spent most of the movie feeling sorry for her and wrapped in a sense of dread.   It didn’t help that, in the finest Otakon tradition, the screening room was freezing cold.

Score:  meh.

(PS:  Turns out this film is very loosely based on circumstances surrounding the death of Tokyo office worker Takaka Konishi, who committed suicide in Minnesota in 2001.  That makes it even more of a bummer.)

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otakon cosplayDD Fist of the North Star: So, bit of a disclaimer here:  I’ve never seen the original Fist of the North Star anime or read the manga so I can’t comment on how well this actually works as the spoof it is clearly supposed to be.  I can, however, comment on how successful the two episodes that I watched were at making me laugh.  In the year 199x the world is a peaceful place and the three brothers Kenshiro, Roah, and Toki, who are powerful martial artists, basically have nothing to do.  They are forced to work part time in order to eat and when Kenshiro loses his job he uses his “North Star Snuggle Fist” (or something like that) move to transform into a cute kitten.  He’s adopted by a young woman who works in a convenience store and when they arrive at the store, Ken finds his brothers, who are also disguised as cute animals, have also been adopted.  The convenience store is hiring but only for one part time position.  And so the three brothers must compete in a variety of tasks set before them by the owner of the store in order to win that coveted part-timer slot.  First among these tasks are thwarting would-be shoplifters and challenging the evil Fist of the South Star Shopping District.  The series is drawn in exaggerated chibi style.  The three brothers and most of the villains have giant heads and huge fists (which is pointed out in the hilarious opening song).  The  master of the convenience store is a very tall and mysterious man who exudes (literally) an aura of power.  His daughter Lin and the other part-timer Bat are drawn mostly as normal teenagers and Bat appears to be the only rational person in the series.  The leader of the Fist of the South Star runs around naked but for a cape and has little sparkles where his dangly bits are supposed to be.  Ken’s fiancee, Yuria is tall, thin and pale, and is usually actually a doll.  The three brothers approach every problem with their fists, usually crying copious amounts of manly tears and announcing in advance all their extreme moves.  When Toki, who is sickly, is stressed he pukes blood everywhere.  Raoh names himself the “King of (insert thing random thing here)” and is always surprised that he has more tears to cry.  I can only guess what all these things are parodies of so I’ve pulled Fist of the North Star to the top of my queue and once I’ve watched it I will then take in the rest of this little jewel.  It was funny enough that I barely noticed how cold the screening room was.

Score:  meh.

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otakon cosplayKung Fu Killers:  There are few entertainment options that I enjoy more than a good kung fu movie so I was pretty stoked to see a Donnie Yen film on the program this year.  In this one Yen plays Hahou Mo, a formerly respected martial arts instructor.  He accidentally kills a man in a duel and is sentenced to five years in prison.   About three years into his sentence, which he is serving without incident, someone starts killing off retired martial arts experts, all of whom were friends of Hahou Mo.  He convinces the detective (played by the wonderful Charlie Young) in charge of the case to have him released from prison so that he can help stop the killer.  She is reluctant but after another martial artist is killed she is convinced and he is released into police custody.  Things are not as they appear and in short order Mo is on the run from the  police as he tries to find the killer and also to protect his beloved Sinn Ying (who is no slouch with a sword).   The plot is a bit thin and melodramatic but the movie is full of the things one watches these movies to see, namely lots of fighting.  The killer’s modus operandi is killing the best martial artist in the respective schools so we see fights using all sorts of different styles: grappling, kicking, use of weapons, etc.  Donnie Yen does not disappoint and good performances are turned in by nearly everyone in the film.  I had a great time.  Also, I brought a sweater so I wasn’t so freaking cold.

Score:  meh

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otakon cosplayHow to Take Better Convention Photographs:  This is the only panel I attended this year (damn the scheduling demons that overlap things I want to do with other things I want to do!).  The panel was led by a really nice professional photographer from Canada who led us through some of the standard photography rules of thumb (exposure triangle, rule of thirds, depth of field, etc.).  It was a pretty big crowd and looking around it seemed that most of the people there were shooting with their phones or with point-and-shoot cameras so he kept the discussion fairly simple.  This was a little disappointing to me, since I was looking for something that would address the specific issues with shooting at Otakon and conventions like it, rather than basic principles.  Stuff like how to deal with the unusual and varied lighting conditions, how to manage with photographing in crowds or in places with unattractive or intrusive backgrounds, how to take good photos at photoshoots when you either can’t get very close or have to shoot from odd angles, or what to do when you are someone like me who has a great deal of trouble talking to strangers and who is never going to be the kind of photographer who will approach fabulous cosplayers and get them to pose for her.  Still, he did discuss how you can set up interesting shots by thinking a bit outside of the box and half the panel was devoted to hands on practice and critique.  He was accessible to the group for questions and made it clear that camera snobbery is kind of foolish and that you can take wonderful pictures with whatever camera you have to hand if you are familiar with the instrument.  If they hold the track next year I will certainly try to sit in again and maybe work up the courage to have him critique my photos.  Maybe.

Score: meh

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And that’s it for Otakon this year.  One more year in Baltimore and then we are off to DC!  Maybe the screening rooms will be warmer….

otakon cosplay

 

 

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~ by gun street girl on July 29, 2015.

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